A few of the personnel from work asked me to go downtown with them to the Deira souk. (souk = is arabic for market). Most people call it the Clock Tower souk because there is a clock tower right near the large square. The tower is built in classic Saudi style. The square is known to Westerners as "Chop- Chop Square" because this is where public executions are held on Fridays.
Most come to the Clock Tower area to shop for computer equipment or gold and diamond jewelry which is VERY inexpensive. This particular day, I was there to get a SIM card put in my Blackberry. Using my present cell phone company would be entirely too expensive here in Saudi Arabia ($4.99 a minute for phone calls, $.50 for outgoing text and $.15 for incoming texts)! With the Saudi SIM card, I would just buy minutes.
The dollar here is call riyals. One (1) U.S. Dollar equals 3.75 Riyals SR). So, in this dusty climate, to have your car washed once a week is about SR 75 per month. That equates to $20 per month (75/3.75 = 20.00)! So pretty much, here in Saudi, there is no need for the American Dollar (until you go home on leave), just Riyals that spend like Monopoly money!
Most of the work here is done by men who are brought here from other countries (India, Philippines) just to work for the Saudi’s. They typically only get paid SR 600 ($159.00) a month! The companies, who hire these men, get paid significantly more by the Saudi Government. So to supplement their salaries these men do extra jobs such as wash cars, clean your villa or keep your plants and sidewalks watered down from the sand storms. The men mail just about everything they make home to their families. When they eventually go home on vacation (sometimes, every 2 or 3 years) the offices take up a collection of money to offset the little salaries that they make to give to them before they go home.
I have since hired a man to clean my vehicle once a week. In the future, I will have him put in and maintain some plants in my enclosed yard. I really do not want anyone to clean for me. But if only I can find someone to cook a nutritious dinner for me at least 3-4 times a week! What can I say....you guys may not recognize me through my spoiledness when I return to the States!